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Jews barred from shops amid Turkish antisemitism


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When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was no different from Hitler, and that the Israeli strikes on Gaza were akin to Nazi persecution of Jews in the Holocaust, he was reflecting sentiments of his countrymen as antisemitism in Turkey is reaching new heights.

Israeli flags have been laid on the ground in markets around the country for people to step on as they entered to shop. An effigy of Netanyahu was hung off a bridge in the city of Afyonkarahisar and in Istanbul, signs outside shops say Jews are not permitted to enter. In Ankara, a giant banner shows Netanyahu with a swastika and the face of a pig and the words “Israel murders babies,” written on it.

But there is more. Signs in supermarkets call to boycott Israeli goods while drawings of Hamas gliders crossing into Israel to attack adorn the walls. Posters on the entrance to Istanbul metro stations read “Israel murders” and similar words were sprayed on the entrance to a Synagogue in Izmir but in that incident, the person responsible was arrested on sight.

This sentiment has been receiving support from the top. Headlines in the Yeni Şafak daily newspaper, affiliated with the ruling Justice and Development Party claimed, “There must be an end to this terror state,” referring to Israel, “The world must destroy this Virus” and “Netanyahu is the butcher of Gaza.”

Erdogan even upped his rhetoric recently when he said the Israel’s vision of a promised land was endangering Turkish territorial integrity and therefore defense of Turkey begins in Gaza.

The Turkish president alluded by those comments, that if Gaza would fall, Israel would have the opportunity to expand its territory. Following those worlds, the Sabah newspaper published a map showing the alleged Israeli promised land which included Norther Cyprus which is under Turkish control. Soon after the maps publication, a campaign was launched to oppose the sale of land in Northern Cyprus, to Jews under the slogans, “So that we don not become a second Palestine,” and “Promote a bill limiting land sales to Jews and Israelis.”

Turkey’s Hezbollah Islamist party the Free Cause Party which is a member of the ruling coalition, recently proposed a bill to revoke Turkish citizenship from those who also hold Israeli passports and took part in the “genocide in Gaza.” According to the proposed bill, their funds and assets should be frozen and transferred to the government. “If and when we would be able to capture those citizens who took part in the genocide in Gaza, in Turkey, we will impose a life sentence on them, the proposal said.

The bill is not expected to advance amid political disputes between the Free Cause party and Erdogan.

4 View gallery

הפגנת תמיכה בעזה, אנקרה, טורקיה

Turks march in support of Gaza Palestinians

(Photo: Adem Altan / AFP)

“Antisemitism has never been this bad,” said Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a researcher at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, at the Tel Aviv University said He another concerning trend can be seen after Israel and the U.S. were of planning the Kurdish terror group, PKK’s attack on Turkish troops, where 12 were killed.

The claim was that the attack came in response to Turkey’s pro-Palestinian stance. Tying Israel to the PKK is serious because the Kurdish group is widely considered a threat to Turkish national security.

But Yanarocak agrees that despite the unprecedented rise of antisemitism, the Turks are had still not reached the level of severing ties with Israel. Turkish ships continue to sail to Israeli ports with goods and it has not attempted to block the flow of oil from Azerbaijan to Israel, through its territory.

4 View gallery

ארדואן עם הכאפייה בעצרת תמיכה בחמאסארדואן עם הכאפייה בעצרת תמיכה בחמאס

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan

(Photo: Emrah Gurel / AP)

Israeli response to the concerning trend has been feeble at best and there has been no expression of Israel’s position online, especially X, amid obstacles of bureaucracy. Now there are calls for the Foreign Ministry to open a Turkish language channel as it had done for other languages because there are some 20 million Turkish speaking users on X and anti-Israeli content in Turkish, even exceeds that in Arabic.

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